Learning and development strategies ensure that the organization has the
talented and skilled people it needs and that individuals are given the
opportunity to enhance their knowledge and skills and levels of competence.
They are the active components of an overall approach to strategic
human resources development (strategic HRD), as described below.
Learning strategies are concerned with developing a learning culture,
promoting organizational learning, establishing a learning organization
and providing for individual learning, as also described in this chapter.
Strategic HRD is defined by Walton (1999) as follows: ‘Strategic human
resource development involves introducing, eliminating, modifying,
directing, and guiding processes in such a way that all individuals and
teams are equipped with the skills, knowledge and competences they
require to undertake current and future tasks required by the organization.’
As described by Harrison (2000), strategic HRD is ‘development that
arises from a clear vision about people’s abilities and potential and operates
within the overall strategic framework of the business’. Strategic HRD takes
a broad and long-term view about how HRD policies and practices can
support the achievement of business strategies. It is business led, and the
learning and development strategies that are established as part of the
overall strategic human resource development approach flow from
business strategies, although they have a positive role in helping to ensure
that the business attains its goals.
Strategic HRD aims
Strategic HRD aims to produce a coherent and comprehensive framework for
developing people through the creation of a learning culture and the formulation
of organizational and individual learning strategies. Its objective is to
enhance resource capability in accordance with the belief that a firm’s human
resources are a major source of competitive advantage. It is therefore about
developing the intellectual capital required by the organization as well as
ensuring that the right quality of people are available to meet present and
future needs. The main thrust of strategic HRD is to provide an environment
in which people are encouraged to learn and develop. Although it is business
led, its specific strategies have to take into account individual aspirations and
needs. The importance of increasing employability outside as well as within
the organization should be one of the concerns of strategic HRD.
Strategic HRD policies are closely associated with that aspect of strategic
HRM that is concerned with investing in people and developing the organization’s
human capital. As Keep (1989) says:
One of the primary objectives of HRM is the creation of conditions whereby
the latent potential of employees will be realized and their commitment to the
causes of the organization secured. This latent potential is taken to include, not
merely the capacity to acquire and utilize new skills and knowledge, but also a
hitherto untapped wealth of ideas about how the organization’s operations
might be better ordered.
Human resource development philosophy
The philosophy underpinning strategic HRD is as follows:
l Human resource development makes a major contribution to the
successful attainment of the organization’s objectives, and investment in
it benefits all the stakeholders of the organization.
l Human resource development plans and programmes should be integrated
with and support the achievement of business and human
Human resource development should always be performance related –
designed to achieve specified improvements in corporate, functional,
team and individual performance and make a major contribution to
l Everyone in the organization should be encouraged and given the
opportunity to learn – to develop their skills and knowledge to the
maximum of their capacity.
l The framework for individual learning is provided by personal development
plans that focus on self-managed learning and are supported by
coaching, mentoring and formal training.
l The organization needs to invest in learning and development by
providing appropriate learning opportunities and facilities, but the
prime responsibility for learning and development rests with individuals,
who will be given the guidance and support of their managers
and, as necessary, members of the HR department.
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